SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

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By: H.B.G.

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Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion in SUSPIRIA

Suspiria (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. There is so much going on in Suspiria that one blog post cannot cover all the occultism that saturates this film. The Three Mothers motif, inspired by the work of Thomas DeQuincey, will find it’s own exegesis in a separate post. For now, let us focus our dark-adapted eye upon a particular set piece and give the Devil His due. And please, don’t think us entirely mad until you have digested all what we are communicating to you here.

Suspiria 4When looking for the Devil in the Details in Suspiria, you cannot help but notice the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climactic scene. That such exquisite yet superfluous beauty as the male peacock exists at all in the world can be seen by some as proof positive of a beneficial Creator – a thumb print, if you will, of the work done by the hand of the Divine Artist. This echoes the Peacock as a symbol of Beauty, Vanity and, of course, Pride – Lucifer’s sin.

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The Fall

The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirred up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equaled the most High,
If he opposed; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Raised impious War in Heaven and Battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the Ethereal Sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,

From: Paradise Lost by John Milton

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The Fall

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A new opportunity presents itself…

In Suspiria, the presence of the Peacock with several marble spheres at it’s feet recalls certain pre-Islamic religious traditions such as the Gnostic Manichaeism philosophy, or the later Yazidi tradition wherein which the ‘Peacock Angel’ – Melek Ta’usan entity often mistakenly confused with the evil entity known as Shaitan / Satan / Iblis by Judeo-Christian and Muslim interpretation – is responsible for the 7 created worlds, and the 7 Heavens.

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The Yazidis are peace-loving monotheists, believing in God as creator of the world, which he has placed under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. The Peacock Angel , vowing to bow only to God the Almighty, refused to bow to God’s human creations – Adam & Eve. By refusing this direct order from the Almighty, this so-called “Fallen Angel” is granted rulership over the created world and is given the task of challenging humankind with all the difficulties of incarnated existence with it’s endless parade of Sighs, Tears and Darkness.

In Yazidi (Yezidi) tradition, The Peacock Angel – named Azazel – as world-ruler, is Prince of this world – our created, material world; and if this world, with all it’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” is a shadow manifested by the deepest condensation of the divine light emanated by the Almighty, would it then be a complete error to call this entity the Prince of Darkness? Azazel is the one who causes both good and bad to befall individuals, and this ambivalent character is reflected in myths of his own temporary fall from God’s favour, before his remorseful tears extinguished the fires of his hellish prison and he was reconciled with God. As observed by more than one occultist, the Devil’s power lies in that ‘He suffers.”

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A Yazidi emblem with the Peacock Angel presiding over the created world. There are 3 plumes on the head (The Trinity),  7 red feathers (The Heptad of Angels), and 12 plumed eyes (The Zodiac).

In certain Gnostic traditions a reconciliation is made between God and the Devil.

We find a peacock idol presiding over several (five? the number of the Pentagram?) spheres in the climactic scene of Suspiria, just after we witness Madame Blanc, “the Vice Directress,” (wink, wink nod) of the Dance Academy and her coven of wicked witches invoking infernal powers. The presence of  this idol is either coincidence or somebody did their occult homework. Or, perhaps, the art director was influenced by other, unseen forces?

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Count the number of “eyes” on the peacock’s tail.

Archon: Gnosticism will give some insight into The Hebdomad, the Seven Spheres or Heavens, often recognized in popular Occultism and Kabbalah as: Saturn – Cronus, Jupiter – Zeus, Venus – Aphrodite, Moon – Hekate/Diana, Mercury – Hermes, and Mars – Aries all gathered around the Sun/Sol – Apollo. Seven colors are also expressed by the spectrum, the degrees of manifest Light – a peacock’s rainbowed fan of categorized material expression of Spirit.

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Now, sometimes, when seeking out the Devil in the Details, you find the Devil looking right back out at you! Don’t drop your Tarot cards… but after a close observation of Suspiria  it appears the Peacock image in Our Lady of Sighs – Mater Suspiriorum’s – chambers has 15 “eyes” on it’s tail. Fifteen is of course the number of XV THE DEVIL card in the Tarot! 

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Whichever Tarot deck you use…

However you shuffle your cards…

THE DEVIL remains number XV !

The redemptive tears of the Peacock Angel…

Fifteen “eyes” on the peacock sculpture in SUSPIRIA…

THE DEVIL in the Tarot is numbered 15…

and, oh yes, the Hebrew letter attached to the XVth Arcanum of the Tarot – THE DEVIL card – is Ayin, which just happens to mean “an eye”.

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AYIN = Eye

The three DEVIL Tarot cards below (from three different packs) each carry a visible letter AYIN. We know our Tarot thoroughly and highly recomend it’s study.

Charms and decorations with eye-like symbols known as nazars, which are used to repel the evil eye, are a common sight across Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Greece, the Levant, Afghanistan, Southern Spain, and Mexico and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists. But we digress…

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After crashing into said Art Deco peacock idol, Suzy Bannion – Our heroine in SUSPIRIA – manages to snatch a fallen peacock plumed stiletto from the overturned idol with which to dispatch the powerfully evil and wicked witch Mater Suspriorum, a.k.a. Helena Markos, by stabbing her through the neck. Mater Suspiriorum, Our Mother of Sighs, is pierced in the neck, the throat, the very reservoir of sighs! Silencing forever that corroded, blasphemous craw!

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Something about that Peacock just sticks in my craw !

But of course we do continue to sigh,

and to weep,

and to stare long and deep

into the gaping jaws of Time.

The religious persecutions and genocidal campaigns executed against the Kurdish Yazidi people of Iraq are horrendous and continue today. How often do you hear the name of the city of Mosul in Iraq in the news?  Mosul is the area closest to the largest Yazidi population in Iraq. You may recall the  2007 Mosul Massacre.

Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL

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Yazidi children have also been victims of Islamic terror and genocide.

For centuries the Yazidis have been tormented and accused of being “Devil-Worshippers.” Religious extremism in the form of the zealots of the so-called Islamic State and other forces in the region have caused untold miseries upon these people who have seen their people massacred and their children sold into sexual slavery. We must use caution so as not to pour gasoline on the fire by misrepresenting the Yazidi people as “Devil-Worshippers” in the Horror film sense of the term. Their tradition is an ancient one containing elements of Gnosticism, Sufism, Christianity and Islam – and yet is completely unique. Comparisons from a solely Christian or Islamic perspective can only result in misinterpretation and misunderstandings. It is it’s own Faith.  Please research the topic to educate yourself further.

Yazidi Woman Who Suffered IS Enslavement Lobbies Washington for Help : May 27, 2017

May we suggest:

If you have a taste for the Occult we suggest this video lecture:

Thelema and the Yezidi “Devil Worshippers”

Some few books are available…

‘Survival Among the Kurds; A History of the Yezidis’

by John S Guest

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Yazidi traditions have a strong emphasis on bodily purity.

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Yazidi gathering at their sacred site in Lalish.

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A Yazidi gathering. Yazidi traditions differ from those of their neighbors but they are most certainly not “Devil worshippers” as certain intolerant groups have claimed.

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Displaced Yazidis fleeing from genocide by the savages of the so-called Islamic State

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Islamic extremists give Yazidis only one choice: Convert or die.

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Yazidi genocide by Islamic zealots.

We await the apocalyptic splendor of a world without religiously motivated hate or genocide.

By: H. B. Gardner

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Satanic Cinema Sommelier; Our Favorite Devilish Films

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A Chronological “wine list” through the past century (1920’s to today) of Diabolical Horror films that are  notable for Satanic, Black Magic, Witchcraft, Pagan or Occult content… paired with drinks.

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Two Satyrs, Peter Paul Rubens, c.1618

Some of these “sinematic” shows have aged well and are to be savored while others have a distinct bite. A few have undeniably gone to vinegar but may still make an interesting salad dressing.

This essay-list is by no means exhaustive and will be tweaked and added to as time allows. The first few decades are inevitably sparse, but scroll through the decades of this diabolical rosary of occult horror cinema to discover some rare gems. We’ve also included some interesting bits of occult cinema trivia here and there.

First are Cinema’s infamous “Unholy Trinity” of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen.

We of course refer to the original films and not any remakes nor sequels, prequels or fecals. That is not to say that some of these sequels are not enjoyable, but these original films – and novels in the case of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist – stand out as having had a widespread influence in popular culture regarding beliefs in an actual Devil, or Satan, and the powers of Evil.

Satanic Sommelier: Each of these three films have aged extremely well, though it must be remembered that they are children of their times. They are smooth but robust in taste, and each has it’s own distinct flavor and bouquet. Each one was a smash hit at it’s time of release and have spawned any number of imitations, sequels, remakes, spin-offs and wannabes. The seventies and eighties were arguably the best time for these films. None before or since, has had as visceral an impact as The Exorcist.

Our personal favorite is Rosemary’s Baby, so let’s begin there.

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Rosemary’s Baby ushered in the whole Devil Baby cinematic motif

Rosemary’s Baby  (1968)

Satanic Sommelier:  A bottle of Merlot  with savory notes and a strong finish. Or  try making a vodka blush in tribute to the Castevets! (Just watch the carpet!).

  • 2 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 3/4 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice (strained)
  • Dash Grenadine
  • Fill shaker 2/3 with fresh ice. Add ingredients. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a fresh sprig of Rosemary. RosemarysBaby-Mia-Farrow-Paramount

Or, you can always celebrate the good tidings with champagne.  Although this may first sound like a bit of an overstatement, this film – and the novel by Ira Levin it came from – caused millions of people in the 1960’s to seriously examine their religious beliefs and ideology. This was done deftly – in print and film – without any onscreen violence or gore. The credit belongs to the near page-by-page and word-for-word translation of Ira Levin’s novel into film by director Roman Polanski. Hands must have surely trembled as they turned the final pages of this thriller when it was first released in 1967. This is due to the flawless matching of the most sacred (motherhood) with the most profane (absolute evil).

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The film, which was released a year after the novel’s release, closely adheres to the novel in almost every way, but has been brought to vivid and believable life through Roman Polanski’s voyeuristic lens and committed performances by the entire cast, especially Mia Farrow as Rosemary, and Ruth Gordon – who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet. This is the Mother of All Devil-Baby Movies and has spawned any number of imitations. The premise has since become it’s own supernatural horror sub genre.

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Ruth Gordon earned an Oscar for her portrayal of Minnie Castevet in Polanski’s masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby.

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An iconic image from The Exorcist

The Exorcist  (1973)

Satanic Sommelier: An expensive Scotch, neat, no ice or water necessary; just like Father Damien gets after his first meeting with Regan MacNeil.  What can we say here that hasn’t already been said? It is a tense, dark, psychological and spiritual horror drama. The scenes of demonic possession and exorcism are deservedly famous, but it’s truly the spiritual crisis of the character Father/Dr. Damien Karras (Jason Miller) which stands at the center of this gripping story.

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Jason Miller exuding gravitas by the bucket-full in The Exorcist.

Father Damien Karras is a Jesuit priest who loses his faith and subsequently achieves a kind of perverse heroic redemption in his own self-destruction… or does he? Watch The Exorcist III to find out! (Feel free to skip The Exorcist “Number 2”).

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The Exorcist has traumatized generations and caused people to reaffirm their religious beliefs.

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The Exorcist works your nerves on many levels: sound, subliminal imagery, psychological tension…

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The Omen echoed the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ motif and became a franchise

The Omen  (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: A good but affordable Australian or Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon; we recommend Casillero del Diablo; or perhaps Newcastle beer. Enjoyable and easy to drink… but not every day.  The Omen caused a good many people to start attending church or paying closer attention to the Book of Revelations – the last chapter of The New Testament. A number of people went home and shaved their kid’s heads in order to inspect them for the Devil’s birthmark – 666 – after viewing this film! Indeed, it is due to this film that “666” as a mark of Evil entered the collective mass consciousness! Spectacular death scenes which can be interpreted as coincidental “accidents” or the work of Evil forces. The trinity of Omen films is Satanic Cinema Canon and one could do worse than to watch all three in a video marathon.

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The Omen is must-see vintage Satanic cinema.

Other notable cinematic daemons through the decades are:

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The Twenties held a lot of promise. Economic prosperity and the developing film industry  of Hollywood would soon lead to legendary debauchery and decadence.

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Häxan (1922)

images-13Satanic Sommelier: Absinthe. (1922) Häxan is a strange creature that is also a real treasure. English title: Witchcraft Through the Ages, is a Swedish-Danish documentary-style silent horror film  based partly on the director’s study of the Malleus Malificarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors. Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatised sequences of perverted and criminal Diabolic rituals and tortures enforced by the Inquisition. We recommend the version narrated by William S. Burroughs because… well, William S. Burroughs.

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Black Mass at a Witches Sabbath in the vintage Häxan.

 

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Häxan

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The inverted pentagram evokes the triumph of base materialism over the spirit. Metropolis.

Metropolis   (1927)

Satanic Sommelier: A Dirty Martini or a nicely chilled Chardonnay. Considered a film classic by pretty much any cinema enthusiast, it’s inclusion here on a list of diabolical films may at first glance appear mistaken. However, as industrialization and science and capitalism appeared to overtake all things holy, including the sacredness of the human spirit, Metropolis depicts the “satanizing” of society and culture – and even the human body – as greed and corruption take the lead in human society. Much analysis has been done of this film but one need only to watch it and note the Biblical cues. Compare the replacement of the sacred with the profane, organic Maria with robot Maria, and the triumph of Babylon (aka, Babalon, viz. Crowley) (and the later real life Feminist and sexual liberation movements) to understand the horror earlier Christian generations had of the Apocalyptic prophecies.

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Ave Maria. Metropolis.

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Feeding of the hungry god. Metropolis.

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Maria as the Whore of Babylon. Metropolis

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How great grandma got her kicks.

Messe Noir,  aka,  “Black Mass”   (1928)

Satanic Sommelier: Depends on the mood, doesn’t it? Absinthe, or Champagne. Otherwise a nice Bordeaux. Although not a horror film, Messe Noir  or Black Mass is a vintage erotic film, or antique porn if you like, from Paris, France which deserves more recognition. It runs only about 6 minutes but it depicts a female neophyte being led by nude, masked cultists to a Satanic altar for initiation into the cult by none other than Lucifer and Astarte serving as Satanic priest and priestess. The  congregation appears to be exclusively female besides the Satanic priest. There is a vampiric blood offering, ceremonial bondage, flagellation, and sex acts between the congregants in an orgy apparently in homage to Satan.

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The Devil’s servants are bound to their Master with the chains of love… or lust.

Little is known about this anonymous relic. Whether this film depicts an actual Black Mass (as a few have claimed) is highly debatable. It is far more likely that somebody had the brilliant idea of filming a staged Live Sex Act with diabolical theatrical costume and paraphernalia added in to spike the excitement factor – such as may have been available to patrons of some of Paris’s decadent underground cabarets back in the day. However, there is evidence that somebody at least did their homework before filming and we might assume that at least some of the congregants may have very well been sincere in their faith. France has a history as a hotbed of heresy and diabolism. Just read Là-bas (1891) by  Joris-Karl Huysmans for a taste of decadent Parisian satanism.

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Servants of the Silver Star and the Serpent. Messe Noir, 1928

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Satan receives many offerings in Messe Noir

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df0765cb7b421ece21b2237179e1af09The Great Depression swept the USA and much of the world was adversely affected. Fortunately some of this darkness birthed classic horrors of the cinema.

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The great Boris Karloff is steeped in Darkness in The Black Cat.

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The Black cat   (1934)

Satanic Sommelier: Brandy, on a dark, cold, stormy night. A young couple traveling on their honeymoon in Hungary meet Vitus Werdegast, a Hungarian psychiatrist played by Bela Lugosi who just so happens to be on his way to meet an old friend, the sinister Hjalmar Poelzig played by Boris Karloff. Weredegast and Poelzig go way back and their relationship has not exactly been a smooth one.

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Karloff x Lugosi = Classic Creepiness!

Werdegast (Lugosi) has spent the last 15 years in an infamous prison camp in Siberia. Poelzig (Karloff) is an architect with many dark secrets, and both will face off in a final confrontation before the bitter end. A collection of dead women in glass coffins, a Satanic cult, a book called The Rites of Lucifer, madness, stunning Bauhaus architecture in glorious black and white… there is much to be savored here. Although the story really has nothing to do with the tale by Edgar Allen Poe don’t let that keep you from seeing this Horror Classic.

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Stylish Bauhaus scenery in The Black Cat

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Hooray for Pre-code Hollywood!

 

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Classic Karloff

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The Wizard of Oz   (1939)

Satanic Sommelier: Amaretto and Coke, or Make a Grasshopper. Not a horror movie you say? Generations of children have been traumatized by this film which depicts a battle between two powerful witches over a pair of magic slippers! And… flying monkeys!!!

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The Scarecrow ripped apart by flying monkeys: some traumatizing shit right there.

cb67ef506492caa493438edb4eacd188Flying. Fucking. Monkeys!!! Great way to get the kiddies started until they’re ready for the “heavier stuff.”

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The cackle that spawned a million nightmares…

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World War II brought whimsical escape and some slow burning suspense to the cinema, but strict codes limited what could be depicted on screen.

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Veronica Lake is spellbinding!

I married a Witch   (1942)

Wallace Wooley: I’m afraid you’ve got a hangover.

Daniel: Don’t tell me what I’ve got! I invented the hangover. It was in 1892… B.C.

Not a horror film, (not much satanism happened on screen in the ’40’s). Witchcraft and love-spells go awry… and a daddy who drinks. An amusing precursor to later endeavors such as Bell, Book and Candle,’ and TV series Bewitched (1964 – 1972) and American Horror Story Season 3: Coven (2013).

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Veronica Lake casts a sexy spell in I Married a Witch

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The Satanic sommelier serves a cocktail to Jean Brooks in The 7th Victim.

The Seventh Victim   (1943)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey. An old fashioned mystery thriller centered around a cult of Devil worshippers called Palladists. Though tame unto the point of near-boredom by today’s jaded cinematic standards, it still carries a cozy film noir accent. Also noteworthy for prefiguring future essays into horror cinema. The group of Palladists have a certain  affinity with later cinematic devil worshipping groups, such as in Rosemary’s Baby. The shower scene is said to have inspired Hitchcock’s notorious shower scene in PSYCHO

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The devilish silhouette in the shower scene in The 7th Victim.

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A slow-burning film noir with Satanic cult accents.

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Angel On My Shoulder   (1946)

Not a Horror film at all, but notable for Claude Rains (The Invisible Man, 1933, The Wolf Man, 1941, The Phantom of the Opera, 1943) who has a great presence, and some great lines,  as The Devil in this classic.

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The final laws against Witchcraft in England were repealed in 1952, allowing witches to finally come out of the (broom) closet. Witchcraft became all the rage after Gerald Gardner wrote and published a couple of groundbreaking books on the subject as an underground Pagan religion. It’s popularity as the Wiccan religion has spread and been on the rise ever since.

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Night of the Demon, AKA Curse of the Demon (1957)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin, as you like it. Or, Newcastle beer. A black magic classic in which the supernatural collides with science! American professor John Holden (Dana Andrews) arrives in London for a conference on parapsychology only to discover that the colleague he was supposed to meet was killed in a freak accident the day before. It turns out that the deceased had been investigating a cult lead by Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). Though a skeptic, Holden is suspicious of the devil-worshiping Karswell. Following a trail of mysterious manuscripts, Holden enters a world that makes him question his faith in science.  It is adapted from the M. R. James story “Casting the Runes” (1911). Did you know?? “Passing the runes” became part of the lyrics in The Rocky Horror Show because of this film.

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“Dana Andrews said prunes, Gave him the runes, And passing them used lots of skills.” –  lyrics from the opening song to The Rocky Horror Picture Show – ‘Science Fiction Double Feature,’  are due to Night of the Demon.

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Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle   (1958)

Satanic Sommelier: Mix up a Manhattan! A cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.  Not a horror film. In the late 1950s, Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a modern-day witch living in New York City’s Greenwich Village. For some reason she decides to cast a love spell on Jimmy Stewart. Witchcraft and love-spells that go awry. Helped pave the way for TV series Bewitched (1964 – 1972) and American Horror Story Season 3: Coven (2013).

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Oh Man! Like… Wow! The Sixties like really  unleashed the Devil upon an unsuspecting cinema-going audience, Man!!! Can you dig it?

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A satanic classic! Featuring the exquisite Barbara Steele as a vampire witch!

Black Sunday   (1960)

Satanic Sommelier: A nice Chianti, or try Strega liquor. (Italian: La maschera del demonio), also known as The Mask of Satan and Revenge of the Vampire, is a 1960 Italian gothic horror film directed by Mario Bava. A classic of the genre and launched the careers of Bava and actress Barbara Steele. A vampire film empowered by Satan and filled with gothic atmosphere. At the time of it’s original release the violence was considered too much and was censored.

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Patricia Jessel and Christopher Lee in Horror Hotel

Horror Hotel, AKA City of the Dead   (1960)

Satanic Sommelier: Chardonnay, chilled. aka The City of the Dead. Features Christopher Lee (you will find his presence occurs often in our list!) as a college professor with more than a dabbler’s interest in Witchcraft.

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Over-selling it a bit… but still a classic of occult horror genre.

Night of the Eagle, AKA Burn, Witch, Burn!   (1962)

Satanic Sommelier: Newcastle beer. Something of a classic of it’s time. When a British professor (Peter Wyngarde) ties his success to his wife’s (Janet Blair) black magic, he destroys her voodoo kit.

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Some people never learn.

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The poster says it all… except for the really cool masquerading, evil, vampire cult.

Kiss of the Vampire   (1963)

Satanic Cinema Sommelier: Absinthe, and/or Champagne. Not quite a diabolic film, but there is a vampire cult and some occult magic ritual. A honeymooning couple are invited by the mysterious Dr Ravna to a party at his spooky castle…  green liqueur… hypnotic piano music… a masquerade ball… dancing… the young couple get separated… a vampire cult… a “professor” working with the occult… and killer vampire bats! A standard plot precursor to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Having a devil of a good time in – Kiss of the Vampire, 1963

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The Red death with a pack of Tarot cards.

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The Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death  (1964)

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend Casillero del Diablo as your affordable go-to red wine.  Based upon the hypnotically perverse work by Edgar Allan Poe, and starring the adorable and inimitable Vincent Price as a tyrannical 12th-century prince (a mix of Gilles De Rais and the Marquis De Sade) who is intrigued by the genuine innocence of a poor village girl and takes her to live amid the immorality of his court where he strives to compel her to join him in the “glories of Hell.”. Some Cabalistic occult significance can be read into the progressive colorization of the rooms leading to Prince Prospero’s (Vincent Price) black chamber.

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Vincent Price delights in being deliciously evil.

Vincent Price and Hazel Court are an aristocratic couple attempting to prove their evilness to their Master Satan in 1964’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death‘.

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Hazel Court dedicates herself as a handmaid to Satan in 1964’s Masque of the Red Death by branding an inverted cross on her breast.

 Did you know??? Masque of the Red Death is the first appearance of an inverted cross as a symbol of Satanism in film!

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Devils of Darkness   (1965)

Satanic Sommelier: Cassilero del Diablo – Cabernet Sauvignon, or Something sweet & creamy. If you are a fan of Hammer horror then you should enjoy this fun gem about a suave, French vampire with a satanic cult following. It begins like a Hammer gothic vampire film with a troop of gypsies in a European forest but, as the body count rises almost as quick as characters are introduced,  the story veers surprisingly towards London in the swinging sixties where the occult boom has just started. Contains some interesting black magic references and tropes as well as the tawdry details of the complicated love affairs of vampires.

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Sharon Tate in Eye of the Devil.

Eye of the Devil (1966)

Satanic Sommelier: Chilled Chardonnay. A slow paced but suspenseful occult mystery-thriller with seasonal Pagan sacrifice and witchcraft at it’s heart. Very good acting by a great cast (David Niven, Deborah Kerr, David Hemmings, Donald Pleasence) and effective storytelling keep you engaged in wondering what will happen next. However, if you’ve read Sir James Frazier’s The Golden Bough you’ll already know the outcome. images-25

Noteworthy for being the beautiful Sharon Tate’s first feature film. Her character is mysterious and intriguing. Regrettable that her talented life (and the lives of several others) was cut abruptly short in unspeakable circumstances by the murderous Manson Family cult in August of 1969.  A wave of weirdness will assail your mind if you think too much of connecting the occult dots between: ‘Eye of the Devil’ – Sacrifice, or ritual murder – Sharon Tate – the year 1966 – Roman Polanski – ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – The Devil – Mia Farrow – The Beatles – The Manson Family cult – John Lennon – The Dakota building in New York – etc…

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Sharon Tate offers a sacrifice in the suspenseful ‘Eye of the Devil.’

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Rosanna Schiaffino & Sarah Ferrati in The Witch in Love. Original Vintage Photograph 1966

The Witch,  aka La Strega In Amore  (1966)

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Strega is good stuff! Its yellow color comes from the presence of saffron. It is slightly sweet, semi-viscous, and has a bold, complex flavor with strong minty or coniferous notes.

Satanic Sommelier: Strega Liquer (of course!), or try a smooth Italian red with smoky notes. Don’t let the opening credits fool you! More of an atmospheric Drama/Mystery than a horror, but notable for it’s good but simple story, artistic camera work, and small cast of striking characters. It is based on the novel Aura by Carlos Fuentes and the story could certainly be remade into an effective film today. This little known Italian (dubbed into English) film (also called ‘The Witch In Love’ or ‘Strange Obsession’) is a film about the witch’s powers of “glamour” in the archaic sense of the word, meaning magic or enchantment. A historian goes to a castle library to translate some ancient erotic literature. While there he discovers what he believes to be supernatural forces at work. Seductive Sixties witchery to enchant the imagination.

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There is a Yin-Yang thing going on with these two fascinating women.

The gorgeous Rosanna Schiaffino is completely bewitching as Aura, and the older and formidable Sarah Ferrati carries a mysterious air as the widow Consuelo. The words witch or witchcraft are never even mentioned and there are no overtly obvious occult tropes, but there is plenty of subtle witchiness to be found. The Witch manages to cast a spell through it’s convincing performances and gothic atmosphere. There are a couple of points that lead us to suspect this film had an effect on Dario Argento’s work on Suspiria. One devil in the details are the curtains in Consuelo’s suite  which happen to be the exact same ones Jessica Harper can be seen hiding behind while observing the witches in the secret passage near the end of Suspiria. Also, the dubbed English voice of Consuelo sounds, at times, remarkably like the voice of Helena Markos – Mater Suspiriorum.

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Sarah Ferrati casts a deadly spell in “The Witch”, 1966

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Incubus  (1966)

Satanic Sommelier: A bottle of Casillero del diablo. Incubus (Esperanto: Inkubo) is a black-and-white American horror film filmed entirely in the constructed language Esperanto. It was directed by Leslie Stevens, creator of The Outer Limits, and stars William Shatner, shortly before he would begin his work on Star Trek. Considered a lost film for years, a copy was found in Paris in 1996 and has had English subtitles superimposed over the French ones. A flawed film but at heart a  good fable of good vs evil. A succubus desires to conquer a pure, virtuous and heroic man despite the warnings of her superior sister succubus to stick with the depraved and perverted. When things become desperate, the titular Incubus is summoned in the form of Milos Milos, an actor soaked in real-life scandal. images-1

 

Article on the Incubus curse

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Witchfinder General,

aka: The Conquerer Worm (1968)

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Vincent Price is the Witchfinder General

Satanic Sommelier: Pint after pint of Guiness. The story details the heavily fictionalised murderous witch-hunting exploits of Matthew Hopkins, a 17th-century English lawyer who claimed to have been appointed as a “Witch Finder Generall” by Parliament during the English Civil War to root out sorcery and witchcraft. The film was retitled The Conqueror Worm in the United States in an attempt to link it with Roger Corman‘s earlier series of Edgar Allan Poe–related films starring Vincent Price—although this movie has nothing to do with any of Poe’s stories, and only briefly alludes to his poem.

Director Reeves featured many scenes of intense onscreen torture and violence that were considered unusually sadistic at the time. In the US, the film was shown virtually intact (uncensored) and was a box office success, but it was almost completely ignored by reviewers. Witchfinder General eventually developed into a cult film, partially attributable to Reeves’s 1969 death from a drug overdose at the age of 25, only nine months after Witchfinders release. 

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Sidney Blackmer and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

Rosemary’s Baby   (1968)

One of Satanic Cinema’s Unholy Trinity (along with The Exorcist and The Omen – see top of page above) and our personal favorite. We have a real soft spot for Ira Levin’s and Polanski’s masterpieces in our black little hearts. We have a page/shrine of our own devoted to it…  (with articles and an interview with a cast member) at :      Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary

and our ….

Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary on Facebook

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Charles Gray in The Devil Rides Out.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic, or have a Guinness or Newcastle. We know this is hard to believe but Christopher Lee is NOT a Satanist in this film! …but he sure seems to know an awful lot about black magic!

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Christopher Lee appears in many films on our list, but just which side is he really on?

Charles Gray (Bond villain Blofeld, and the Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is the Satanic High Priest-Magician in this Hammer horror thriller. The opening credits are fantastic! 200-1

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The Devil Rides Out

ΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨ9153-7d4b-4ed5-9036-c2248803738aBy the time the Seventies rolled around, Satan was so comfortable in the cinema that he decided to kick things up and really make some heads spin! Everybody was tripping  on the occult trend before you could say “What’s happening?!”

mark-of-the-devil-poster   Mark of the Devil   (1970)

Satanic Sommelier: Guiness or Newcastle Beer. A Cult Horror classic noteworthy for it’s  violent depictions of witch hunting featuring graphic scenes of torture… and a handsome young Udo Kier

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And the frighteningly creepy Reggie Nalder...

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Reggie Nalder

Who you may recognize from his memorable role in  ‘Salem’s Lot (1979)

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Aleister Crowley. Occultist.

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Dean Stockwell attempts to channel Aleister Crowley in the trippy The Dunwich Horror

The Dunwich Horror   (1970)

Satanic Sommelier: Cheap California Red or microbrew. Produced by Roger Corman (famed for those Poe adaptations featuring Vincent Price). Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee star in this not-so-great adaptation of the story by H.P. Lovecraft. But it has a certain tacky charm and it can be enjoyed for the tacky late ’60’s California occult psychedelic vibe, imagery and music.  dunwich7

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Satanis: The Devil’s Mass    (1970)

UnknownSatanic Sommelier: Low-calorie Beer. One of the only non-Horror films to reach our list because of it’s relevancy to our ongoing discourse. This American documentary film is about Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan. Filmed in San Francisco, California, the film is a compilation of ritual footage and interviews with LaVey’s family, neighbors, and church members, as well Christian priests and Mormon missionaries. An intriguing look into the occult revival stirred up by the cultural upheaval of the ’60’s and 70’s. This documentary can be viewed on Youtube.

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Anton LaVey made quite a splash with his Church of Satan.

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Are you ready for unholy communion? To Taste the Blood of Dracula?!

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)

Satanic Sommelier: A very rich, dry, full-bodied Merlot. Or, try a Bloody Mary. Christopher Lee-as-Count Dracula developed into the Devil’s avatar in Hammer’s Horror films. A group of dissipated men try dabbling in the occult – Hellfire Club style – to add something new to spice-up their drab debaucheries… with dreadful consequences. Russell Hunter as the effeminate Felix the pimp and Ralph Bates as Lord Courtly lend the film a tasty Là-Bas and Hellfire Club feel. The black magic elements are an obvious and key element to this good vs. evil story.

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Felix the pimp has difficulty managing his charges in ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’.

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You’ll discover many dirty habits in Ken Russell’s The Devils

The Devils  (1971)

Satanic Sommelier: Difficult to choose… Perhaps an expensive French Bordeaux. No? Maybe Absinthe? Chartreuse? Otherwise, Bloody Mary’s for everyone! Excellent film – if you can find it. Directed by Ken Russell and banned for years, it is still usually available only in edited forms. Based on actual events known as the  Loudon Possessions. A seventeenth century “nuns gone wild.” Hysteria, repression, obsession, possession, and political intrigue leads to the discovery of the real devils in society, i.e.: the unholy alliance of church and state!

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NOT coming to a theater near you. The Devils, (1971).

The art direction is fabulous and the film has a fantastic look all it’s own. The best DVD release so far (from BFI) can be found through Amazon UK.

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Stunning art direction contrasts with gritty reality.

The special features include some footage from the infamous and always edited “Rape of Christ” sequence, in which possessed nuns depose a crucifix in order to have their way with it. We could rave on and on about how marvelous this film is, and how horrifyingly relevant it remains today! Satanic Cinema canon!

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“Oh yes! And then some!”

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Angel is a Devil in Blood On Satan’s Claw

Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971)

Satanic Sommelier: A pint (or two, or three…) of fine Ale.  When a mysterious corpse is accidentally dug up by a boy in a small town, a group of local teens starts acting very strangely. The adolescents, led by a girl named Angel (Linda Hayden), are convinced the corpse was once possessed. Hoping to get in touch with the devil through the body, the teens act out a series of demonic rituals that causes a stir among the townspeople. When word of the satanic activity spreads, certain parents start trying to lock up the kids behind the spooky stunts.

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Count Karnstein offers dark delights in Twins of Evil.

Twins Of Evil   (1971)

Satanic Cinema Sommelier: Merlot. A Hammer Horror featuring Peter Cushing as a stern and pious witch-hunter who can’t determine which of his beautiful and recently orphaned twin nieces has been led astray by the evil Count Karnstein who is investing his time in Satanism and Black Magic in emulation of his wicked ancestors.

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Peter Cushing commands a fanatical Brotherhood in Twins of Evil.

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Simon, King of the Witches

Simon, King of the Witches   (1971)

Satanic Sommelier: We recommend smoking something while you finish a cheap bottle of California red before watching this after midnight. A Cult film even cult film fans may not have heard of. What the hell can we even say about this one? Simon is a Californian sorcerer who lives in a storm sewer who befriends a male prostitute and…. oh, hell. Just watch it when you’re drunk or stoned!

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Whatever you say, Honey. Simon, King of the Witches.

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The Mephisto Waltz   (1971)

Not yet viewed…

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Dracula AD 1972

 Dracula AD 1972   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Incense and peppermint schnapps. What a title! Claimed to be a favorite film of Tim Burton. A Satanic ritual performed by hippies using the dried blood of Dracula himself brings Christopher Lee back to (from?) the Undead… or… is it the un-undead at this point?? Just as in the previous year’s Taste the Blood of Dracula! 

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Tripping hippies go gothic! Dracula AD 1972 

The early 70’s were a time when dabbling in occultism and black magic were de rigueur. Peter Cushing is present as a descendent of Van Helsing, of course.

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With more than a touch of evil, Orson Welles gives us Necromancy

Necromancy  aka The Witching   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Any Black Tower brand wine; perhaps Pinot Noir, as we remember Mr Welles in the Black Tower wine commercials on TV back in the day.  Orson Welles is the leader of a group dabbling in the Dark Arts. A  not-so-great film, but gives you that ’70’s occult paranoia vibe which everybody was dipping into. 

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Orville’s coming-out party is not to be missed in the underrated cult classic Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Rum & Coke, or perhaps Vodka cranberry. Screwdrivers are also appropriate, but Beer will do. Now considered a cult classic, “CSPWDT” is sort of like Night of the Living Dead, but with a young theater group dabbling in diabolism and necromancy. Flawed but effective 70’s gem (perfect for what it is) with some surprisingly good moments to chill your blood. We first saw this on the late, late, late, you’re up too late show on local TV back in the late 80’s and remember being terribly creeped out and unable to put out all the lights in our basement bedroom afterwards. 

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Asylum of Satan   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Cheap beer. 70’s cinema really gave the Devil His due… but without much thanks to this odd movie artifact. Awkward to just plain bad acting, plagued by a funky 70’s music score and the cheapest effects available, this film will at least amuse some Satanic and Le Bad Cinema fans with it’s interesting twists and deaths. Notable for having the Devil costume from Rosemary’s Baby (with a goofy Devil mask) in the big Satanic ceremony at the end when the Prince of Darkness is summoned from Hell.   AsylumOfSatan3

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The Exorcist   (1973)

images-4  Of course! See the Unholy Trinity of Diabolical films at the top of our list (including Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen).

If you have somehow managed to escape viewing this film… what in the Hell are you waiting for?! It was a phenomena that caused a sensation upon release. It scalded the brains of, and traumatized, many a cinema-goer in the early 70’s, and has challenged people’s ideas regarding the existence of an actual Devil or power of absolute evil ever since. It has also caused many a Christian believer to excoriate any occult paraphernalia, such as Ouija boards or Tarot cards, as gateways  to Satanism, possession and eternal damnation. Certain Scenes scared and disturbed people more than any film ever had before – causing physical reactions like increased heart rate,  shaking and nausea – and people leaving the theater. The Exorcist is often imitated, but hardly ever surpassed, in Satanic Cinema.

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The Evil One expresses a palpable presence in The Exorcist.

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Antichrist   (1974)

the-antichrist-1974-movie-alberto-de-martino-4 We have yet to view this Exorcist rip-off but are eager to do so.

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Speaking of the Prince of Darkness…. back to Christopher Lee.

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Christopher Lee presides over The Satanic Rites of Dracula… of course! Ab Fab’s Joanna Lumley stars as Van Helsing’s granddaughter.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula    (1974)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic for this very British film.   Christopher Lee… Peter Cushing… ’nuff said. But with the added thrill of an elite Satanic fraternity planning to release a plague on the unsuspecting earth in order to wipe out humankind! Christopher Lee’s Dracula (suffering from a severe case of ennui, no less) is at the center of this diabolical treat. Joanna Lumley (Patsy Stone of Absolutely Fabulous fame) appears as Van Helsings granddaughter.

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Rich weirdos get their Hellfire Club kicks in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

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Peter Cushing knows that a crucifix is much more effective than that sissy little gun in The Satanic Rites of Dracula

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The Wicker Man (1975)

Satanic Sommelier: Mead (Honey wine), or an Apple Cider.  Classic! A must see film starring Christopher Lee (starting to see a pattern here?!). A conservative Christian policeman (Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie) is sent to investigate the report of a missing child on a small Scottish island. He is scandalized by the local Pagan culture and it’s sexualized rituals which are overseen by Lord Summerisle (Lee at his best). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child. 

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Alucarda   (1975)

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A friendship sealed in blood binds the fates of two girls in a convent in Alucarda.

Satanic Sommelier: A Bloody Mary. Or try a Spanish Crianza, followed by “una cerveza mas fina” con guacamole y tortilla chips for this Mexican nunsploitation masterpiece. (Spanish title: Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas, or Alucarda, the daughter of darkness) is a 1977 Mexican horror film directed by Juan López Moctezuma, and starring Tina Romero in the title role. Often thought to be based on the 1872 novella Carmilla, it revolves around two teenage orphan girls living in a Catholic convent, who unleash a demonic force and become possessed by Satan. Though it is a Mexican Spanish language film, it was originally filmed in English, as evidenced by the fact that the lip movements match the dubbed English dialogue. There is something compelling about this film and much of it is due to the ferocity conjured and unleashed in the performance by the leading actress Tina Romero.

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The demonically inspired Alucarda.

This nunsploitation film has some great surrealistic set pieces, plenty of hysterical blasphemy, flagellating nuns, sadistic monks, exorcism and…. bleeding nuns!! Could somebody please explain to us the nun’s bloody habits in this film? Is this a historically accurate style for a certain religious order? or simply a surrealistic flourish? Nuns in habits stained with their monthly blood. Hardcore.

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Alucarda is a must see for any Satanic cinema fan!

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Alucarda is Satanic Cinema canon!

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Satanico Pandemonium    (1975)

Satanic Sommelier: Mexican red or Corona beer. A vintage nunsploitation horror film that feels almost sacred in that cheap plaster saint kind of way. Sister Maria lives with the convent for her charity works, but her imagination is sparked after she happens to see a naked man who has just finished bathing in a nearby river. In her secret fantasies, she becomes agonized by visions from another world, a world in which she is permitted to run free. In this world Satan is her lord, and her acts of violence and blasphemy mount. Sister Maria realizes that she is elected by the Devil himself to destroy the convent and lead her sister nuns into hell. Only the Devil can intuit the dark secrets of her tortured mind. A very interesting film that pays off for what it lacks in it’s twist ending to the story.

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The Devil’s Rain   (1975)

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Ernest Borgnine on the set of ‘The Devil’s Rain’ with Anton LaVey

Satanic Sommelier: Vodka and blood orange lemonade with club soda. Watched this two or three times decades ago so we are due to rewatch. But we remember it as a B movie with not much happening until the last 20 minutes or so. Anton LaVey served as some sort of Satanic consultant on the set. Interesting cast including William Shatner, John Travolta, Tom Skerrit, and… Ernest Borgnine as a Satanic cult leader?!?! Dated gruesome effects are given lots of time to give the viewer to fully take in the “visage spillage” (say that with a French accent and it suddenly makes the film, if not more bearable then, at least more amusing.

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“Visage spillage”

 

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Race with the Devil (1975)

Satanic Sommelier: This one is strictly beer. Two couples vacationing together in an R.V. from Texas to Colorado are terrorized after they witness a murder during a Satanic ritual. Peter Fonda stars. A heartwarming 70’s touchstone it is not. The final shot at the ending is memorable. Clay Tanner (the uncredited actor who played The Devil in 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby) appears as an extra. 

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Clay Tanner as Delbert in Race With the Devil.

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Nastassja Kinski and Christopher Lee in a Devil flick. Sounds like popcorn night to me!

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: Blue Nun. This one is Satanic Cinema Canon. 

Three reasons to watch this film:

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Christopher Lee as a Satanic priest – he does it so well! Look for that smile at a nasty scene near the beginning of the film!,

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A 15-year-old full frontal nude Nastassja Kinski  (we also love her dressed as a nun),

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and… some rather atypical Satanic ritual ritual imagery.

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We felt the same way when we were forced to go to church as a child.

The Omen   (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: We recommend Two Paddocks pinot noir (see 1981’s Omen III: The Final Conflict). One of Satanic Cinema’s Unholy Trinity (along with Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist – see top of this list) The Omen became a trilogy of it’s own with sequels following Damien Thorn’s rise to power as The Antichrist . This movie suddenly brought 666 into public consciousness as a mark of evil. Classic! Satanic Cinema Canon. 

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Paula Sheppard is disturbing and disturbed in ‘Alice, Sweet Alice’.

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: A cheap Merlot with acrid tones that sting the nose and leaves your tongue and teeth purple because you passed out from over-drinking before brushing your teeth… but every once-in-a-while you pick up a bottle because it does the job. Gato Negro will do. AKA Communion, Holy Terror. A frightful 70’s American slasher gem reminiscent of Dario Argento’s giallo shockers. This creeper focuses on murders that occur within a Catholic community, especially around two young sisters and especially  the younger one’s (’80’s beauty Brooke Shields) first communion. It positively spills over with bloody murder and over-the-top 70’s Catholic paranoia. Applause due to Jane Lowry (as Aunt Annie DeLorenze) who was really going for the Oscar in this project!

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“Oh my GOD!!”

While not explicitly Satanic, Alice Sweet Alice sure feels blasphemous when taken in it’s grisly entirety. The strict Catholic repression appears to encourage mentally disturbed behavior in this story. The creepy, obese, cat-loving landlord was played by Alphonso DeNoble. According to director Alfred Sole, Alphonso made extra money by dressing up as a priest and hanging around cemeteries. Elderly widows would ask “Father Alphonso” for a blessing and offer him a donation for the church in return.

Did you know ?

Linda Miller (who plays Alice and Karen’s mother) is the daughter of Jackie Gleason and was married to Jason Miller, who portrayed Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist!! 

 

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Brooke Shields as Karen is ready for unholy communion in Alice Sweet Alice’

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Sometimes we just can’t get enough SUSPIRIA !

Suspiria (1977)

Satanic Sommelier: Affordable but drinkable Italian red wine… and hashish (smoke ’em if you got ’em).  Suspiria is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most celebrated artistic horror film ever made. Dario Argento’s masterpiece. There has been much discussion about this film and a type of remake or reboot is anticipated for 2018. Note the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climax – the Peacock is of course a symbol of Pride – Lucifer’s sin. The Three Mothers motif is carried on in the sequels Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007). We started #TheThreeMothers hashtag. Read our Occult-Horror geek articles on Suspiria here:

SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess; Part 2

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess, Part 3

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The pleasure to be derived from viewing Suspiria is akin to getting a heavy dose of LSD and falling into a black light velvet poster trance in the mid seventies with the Hi-Fi stereo on.

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John Carradine in The Sentinel

The Sentinel (1977)

Satanic Sommelier: Whatever your poison may be, drink plenty of it! The gateway to Hell requires a vigilant ward. The requirements for the position are a particular sin. The Sentinel is kind of like a blend of Hell House and Rosemary’s Baby with some Law & Order mixed in. If it is tedious at times you can amuse yourself by spotting the many big names in it, enough to give even a jaded movie goer pause: Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, and Beverly D’Angelo in…. well, an unforgettable scene. Make-up effects by the legendary Dick Smith of The Exorcist fame. This gritty ’70’s devil movie has a politically incorrect climax to creep you out.

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She was young. She was beautiful. She was next!

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Jonathan Scott-Taylor  wields equal amounts of sinister, sympathy and angelic charm as Damien Thorn.

Damien: Omen II   (1978)

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Satanic Sommelier: Bourbon… on ice. A wonderful sequel – both good and bad! But even the bad is good! Great performances all around – some a bit over-the-top in that wonderful kind of way – with Leo McKern returning as the wise old man, Sylvia Sidney as Aunt Marion, and that Frantic Red-Coated Woman warning: “You are in DANGER!”.

A real outstanding performance by a young Jonathan Scott-Taylor, who appears to have dropped out of acting in the mid-eighties. His charming portrayal of Damien is convincing, sympathetic and frightening. Just a couple years later and the whole Satanist-in-a-boy’s-military-academy motif would be recycled, tweaked and expanded in the wonderfully wicked Evilspeak (1981).

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The Legacy   (1978)

Satanic Sommelier: Hard Cider followed by hot tea with a splash of something. Called “A Supernatural Love Story” in the original theatrical trailer, The Legacy is a clumsy masterpiece only the 70’s could spawn.  It starts off kind of like a Carpenters music video. Although the diablery is so subtle when compared to other Satanic thrillers of the era as to be nearly unnoticeable, there is a lot of “mystery…” and some 70’s tinted Black Magic atmosphere.

A young American couple visit England on what they think will be a business trip, but all goes according to the Evil One’s plans when they are welcomed by a mysterious Unknown-3benefactor into a gathering of rich strangers at a mansion in the country where Destiny awaits them. An awkward film which definitely has it’s moments with delightful nonsense and death scenes that will at least entertain. Sam Elliot, Charles Gray and The Who’s Roger Daltrey each lend their own charm to the film.

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Roger Daltrey in The Legacy.

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Margaret Tyzack as the mysterious Nurse Adams (is she a nun or what?) seems awfully “familiar” (see what we did there?) in The Legacy.

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Escalofrío (Chill)  aka: Satan’s Blood   (1978)

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Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon… with cheese. A remarkably atmospheric, soft-core, erotic occult thriller that mixes Satanism , parapsychology and considerable doses of sex. Andrés and Ana, an urban couple living in Madrid, leave their apartment to spend a day of pleasure in the city with their dog. They end up accepting the invitation of two strangers, Bruno and Berta, to go to their country house for some wine and cheese. A storm surprises them and they have to stay for the night together. The two couples start a session with a ouija board. There are conflicting past situations, such as the affair that Ana had with Andrés’ brother or Bruno’s suicide attempt, which receives criticism from Berta. This will be the beginning of the horrors that will take place in the haunted house. No mistaking this one for a blockbuster but… there are a few genuinely chilling scenes. The occult-infused erotic scenes are of a tasteful quality and not intrusive to the plot. A good story with a twist ending!  An undiscovered treat!

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Satan’s Blood has a good story and some creepy atmosphere!

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Unknown-2The Evil   (1978)

Satanic Sommelier: Beer. A theatrically released film that kind of feels more like a made for TV movie – but with some mild 70’s gore. A somewhat slow-paced haunted house thriller with a diabolical twist.  A psychiatrist (Richard Crenna) buys an abandoned mansion, which was built over hot sulfur pits, in order to set up a drug rehab center (Hey! What could go wrong?). He recruits a group of volunteers to help clean-up and renovate the large house. Kids, this is what’s known as a recipe for certain doom. His wife almost immediately begins seeing ghosts and things go from bad to worse for our would-be remodelers.

What it lacks in parts (some of the acting is forgettable – in fact one character suddenly disappears without a hint of what actually becomes of her) is made up for in other ways. And we have to admit, including actor Victor Buono was a nice touch. Don’t expect too much and you may find it an enjoyable treat of diabolical ’70’s mayhem.

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The Amityville Horror   (1979)

Satanic Sommelier: BeerA cultural phenomenon in it’s time, in it’s own way. The House cursed by evil forces which led to a brutal multiple murder (or is it the other way round?) shook up many a movie goer and pulp paperback reader back in the day. A franchise which continues to beat it’s head against the same tired old walls even today.

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The Eighties wrapped everyone and everything in a cooling shroud of anxiety, troubled darkness and despair. Goth music was stretching it’s membranous wings, AIDS was decimating the most creative and talented, and the Satanic Panic reached it’s paranoid peak!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 15.11.13Inferno   (1980)

Satanic Sommelier: Italian Red. After the marvelous Suspiria (1977) came the second film in The Three Mothers series directed by horror maestro Dario Argento. An underestimated classic with striking cinematography and musical score by Keith Emmerson (of Emmerson, Lake & Palmer). Stars Leigh McCloskey as a concerned brother compelled to leave Rome in search of his endangered sister (Irene Miracle) who has been living in a mysterious house in New York City connected to The Three Mothers. Alchemy is introduced into The Three Mother’s murderous brew in this follow-up to Suspiria’s surreal horror legacy. it should be noted here that actor Leigh McCloskey has expanded beyond acting into art infused with occult philosophy inspired by the Tarot and Kabbalah. Link:  Leigh McCloskey site

Omen III: The Final Conflict    (1981)

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Sam Neil as Damien Thorn assumes his mantle as Antichrist in The Omen III: The Final Conflict.

Satanic Sommelier: Please try a Two Paddocks pinot Noir in honor of winemaker and actor Sam Neil. The third and final film in the original ‘The Omen’ series (let’s not talk about that wretched 1991 Part 4 made for TV fiasco). Although usually considered the weakest of The Omen Trilogy, it is worth watching for suave and sexy Sam Neil as Damien Thorn. 

The 7 daggers of annihilation introduced in the first film, and reprised in the sequel, are put to use in this installment of the trilogy by a brotherhood of monks sworn to exterminating the Antichrist in the form of Damien Thorn, who, along with directing Thorn Industries, has come dangerously close – in influential position – near the American presidency!

Satanic Cinema Sommeliers take note when shopping for your diabolical wine rack – keep an eye out for Two Paddocks  wine because actor Sam Neil is the proprietor behind the New Zealand brand! Link: Two Paddocks Winery

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Feeling a little “Thorny,” are we Damien?

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Satanic Sommelier: A very good beer. This one is unique as it is the first (and perhaps only) film to use the high-tech-demon-summoning-computer-motif (this was the beginning of the 80’s when home computers became available) by the bullied young man out for revenge. Think Stephen King’s ‘Carrie,’ but with a male misfit instead of a young woman in the lead, who turns to the Devil for unholy revenge. Practically in a category by itself, innit?

Enjoyable but often overlooked for it’s eccentricities, Evilspeak is a rare 80’s gem that is delightfully nasty. The scenes of the cruelties by young men in a military academy who gang up on a weaker one are especially unpleasant with gratuitous shame. This film carries some rather heavy Satanic  motifs with a vicious and gory climax to boot (effects a a little dated, but so what?), which caused it to be banned for a number of years in the UK. One of the few Satanic horror films which draws upon the less popular porcine symbolism of the Devil. The “evil” Egyptian god Set is associated with pig iconography (among other animal totems). Almost want to take a shower / bath after watching this one… almost.

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The Beyond   (1981)

Satanic Sommelier: Jaegermeister with a beer chaser, repeat.  A Cult Horror Classic and Our favorite Lucio Fulci film. There is a blind woman, a house that stands as a gateway to Hell, reference to the ancient and mysterious Book of Eibon, walking dead, spiders…. uhh, Plot? What plot? Who needs a plot?! Don’t try to analyze it, just enjoy the atmosphere and mayhem! Just do it under the influence of something!

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Black Candles   aka: Los Ritos Sexuales Del Diablo (1982)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey. Vintage, soft-core erotica with a diabolical thriller theme. By no means a great, or even a good film. Most of the acting is second rate, but the dull  film is carried along by sexy Satanic siren Helga Liné, who has appeared in many horror films. There are horror elements (a couple of characters die – one by Witchcraft, another by… well, let’s just say it’s an unpleasant end), and plenty of occult and satanic pageantry. What sets this one apart is the scene with the goat – either the young woman in the scene was a great actress or she and the goat actually shared a cigarette after the scene was finished shooting. 1978’s EscalofrÍo, aka Satan’s Blood is a more successful attempt at the erotic-occult theme.

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Helga Liné is a satanic hostess with the occasional Black Mass in her basement.

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Legend   (1985)

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot by Casillero del Diablo. More a fantasy than a Satanic Horror film, but it weaves a spell and certainly falls under our Diabolical theme due to the fabulous Tim Curry as Darkness. Suitable for the whole family once the kids are bored with The Wizard of Oz.

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Mickey Rourke in the exceptional Angel Heart.

 Angel Heart  (1987)

Satanic Sommelier: Jack Daniels or Jim Beam (any way you like) for you “Hairy Angel” types.  Or try Toots Sweet’s favorite Twin Sisters Cocktail Recipe: Ingredients: 1/2 oz. light rum 1/2 oz. spiced rum 1 dash lime juice 1 dash Coca-Cola Directions: Shake with ice and strain into shot glass. Best served in a shot glass. Atmospheric film with an excellent cast. The story pulls you in and won’t let go. Mickey Rourke in his prime as Harold Angel (“Hark! The herald angels sing…”) and Robert DeNiro as Louis Cyphere (wink). Based on the novel ‘Falling Angel’ by William Hjortsberg.

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The bewitching Lisa Bonet.

The novel is centered in New York and never travels to New Orleans like in the film. The book  depicts a gritty Black Mass that takes place in an abandoned New York subway. Well, that scene didn’t make it into the film, but we get some good Voodoo ceremony here along with a (at the time it was released) controversial and passionate sex scene with the lovely young (and underrated) Lisa Bonet. Actress Charlotte Rampling appears as a mysterious old flame into more than just star-gazing. A horror mystery with a real twist at the end.

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Robert DeNiro is unforgettable as the cryptic Mr Cyphere.

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Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1987 – 1988)

Satanic Sommelier: Drink something really good… until it hurts. Hellraiser & Hellbound are very significant films in their dramatic revisioning of Hell, it’s demons, landscape and all their accompanying mythology. This is all due to writer/director/visionary/artist Clive Barker, and the many cinematic artists who helped realize his nightmarish ideas of Hell on film. Based upon Clive Barker’s novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ we discover a deal-with-the-devil story twisted with perverted family relations. The simple Faustian premise is amped up to exquisite extremes of Hellishness where Pleasure and Pain become indistinguishable. The Cenobites, perhaps the most unique demonic figures seen since the Fin de siècle,  are “Demons to some, Angels to others,” offering us to taste their pleasures of sweet suffering. This was a genre-changing horror series when it first appeared and has influenced many since (Silent Hill comes to mind).

By definition, the term Cenobite  refers to a member of a religious order.

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Prince of Darkness (1987)

Satanic Sommelier: That wild green fiendy liquid in the capsule compels us to select either a Vodka gimlet or Midori for this one. Although the 80’s effects may be a little dated, this one has a seriously effective creep factor. A strange discovery is made in the basement of an old church (the aforementioned capsule containing a mysteriously active green liquid) and there is a team of researchers sent to investigate. Donald Pleasance is a Catholic priest and Alice Cooper appears as one of the demented street people being attracted to the strange energy of the church. Do not watch it alone late at night. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness) there is just something really disturbing about this nightmarish movie… “Hello? Hello? I’ve got a message for you, and you’re not going to like it…”

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The Believers   (1987)

Satanic Sommelier: Rum & Coke. A New York psychiatrist (Martin Sheen) finds that a brujería-inspired cult, which believes in child sacrifice, has a keen interest in his own son. Released just as the Satanic Panic was rearing it’s paranoid head, this thriller helped stir up the cauldron of mystical / magical religious intolerance, especially towards Voodoo and Santeria. Memorable ending.

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Not exactly what most people have in mind when they say they are going to The Church.

The Church (1989)

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine, Casillero del Diablo. (Italian title: La chiesa), also known as Cathedral of Demons or Demon Cathedral, is an Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi. It was produced by Dario Argento (along with a list of others). Asia Argento is a young girl in the film. Some nice set pieces, demons, Satanic rituals and plenty of gore. There are some definite nods to ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ including an uncanny homage in a Devil Rape scene (compare music), and an old couple patterned on Minnie and Roman Castevet that tour The Cathedral. You should definitely go to The Church, it’s good for your soul.

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Julian Sands as the Warlock.

Warlock   (1989)

Satanic Sommelier: Beer or cider. Released at the peak of the Satanic Panic then occurring in North America, this film played upon the fears of a populace terrified that Satanic covens were lurking in every neighborhood, and they wanted your children for terrible purposes. Although this film is certainly dated by today’s standards, it has served as a style template for many a young male witch (all black wardrobe and long hair). The wickedly handsome Julian Sands is the titular Warlock on an evil mission to destroy God’s Creation.

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unnamed As The Satanic Panic fizzled out, The Nineties saw a fruiting of big budget Devil films with some very big names in Hollywood in starring roles. Culturally speaking, many people were taking sides : true believers or heretics.

Trends towards the popularization and normalization of the New Age, Buddhism, Yoga and all forms of Paganism and related alternative belief systems blossomed.

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The well-paced scene leading up to this image scares the hell out of everybody the first time they watch The Exorcist III.

The Exorcist III    (1990)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey Sour. We don’t usually endorse many sequels, but the third installment in The Exorcist franchise, nicknamed around our household The Apology,” is a worthy successor, (unlike Exorcist “Number 2,” which we’ll just not mention here and pretend never happened). A well-crafted film with a great cast, and a good, tight story with plenty of suspense and psychological religious horror.

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“Now I call that showmanship, lieutenant!”

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Early on in The Devil’s Daughter / The Sect, we are introduced to a frightful Charles Manson-like cultist.

The Sect,  aka The Devil’s Daughter   (1991)

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine or German Riesling. (Italian title: La Setta), also known as  Demons 4, is another Italian horror film co-written and produced by Dario Argento and directed by Michele Soavi. The film stars Kelly Curtis (sister of Jamie Lee Curtis: ‘Halloween’ 1978) who has a destiny with the devil’s crew.  

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Herbert Lom as the mysterious stranger with a package… and some weird eyedrops.

Herbert Lom also stars. It’s a weird film with echoes of Rosemary’s Baby but embellished with some truly bizarre twists, some surrealistic, dreamlike and nightmarish imagery, along with some gore. A very creative departure from the standard formulaic devil films we get these days.

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The Sect offers diabolical face-lifts!

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Dark Waters    (1993)

Satanic Sommelier: A Spanish Crianza or a Portuguese red wine. A good but slow-paced, somewhat surreal and artsy yet atmospheric, nunsploitation horror with strong echoes of H.P. Lovecraft. That croaking, blind Mother Superior though! Creepy! Subtle nightmare fuel.

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In the Mouth of Madness   (1994)

Satanic Sommelier: Chardonnay. Our beloved Sam Neil (Damien Thorn in OMEN III: The Final Conflict) finds himself falling into a plot with heavy influences by the grandfather of Cosmic Horror H.P. Lovecraft.  Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, Prince of Darkness, The Thing).

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SEVEN     (1995)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey sour. “SE7EN” is a high budget, dark gift from Hollywood starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow. images-10Director David Fincher has called it a “meditation on evil,” set in a dirty, violent, raw and depressing environment. To this end, Fincher turned to production designer Arthur Max to create a dismal world that often eerily mirrors its inhabitants. “We created a setting that reflects the moral decay of the people in it”, says Max. While it is a crime thriller and not an occult horror (has no occult or explicitly traditional “satanic” tropes), witnessing the twisted mind of a smug psychopath going to outrageous lengths to murder his victims on the theme of the “Seven Deadly Sins” warrants this gritty and disturbing film a place on our list.Se7en film cross

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Barry Del Sherman as the sadistic Butterfield torments a former-cultist-turned-Tarot card reader in the splendid Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions.

Lord of Illusions   (1995)

Satanic Sommelier: Tequila, any way you can take it. Clive Barker, the genius who created Hellraiser (among many other fine fantastic creations) again adapted one of his short stories into a feature film with this Neo-noir-occult-detective-fantasy-thriller. While some effects are dated, there is some real visceral horror and creepy occult intrigue here for the discriminating palate. Our favorite line comes early in the movie when the leader of a cult threatens an abducted young girl with his pet mandrill (!), telling her: “I think he’s in love.”

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Daniel Von Bargen as the sinister Nix. Lord of Illusions.

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I just like to keep a mandrill on a leash because…

 Nix: “I think he’s in love.”

Abducted Girl: “SCREEEEEAMS!”

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The Craft   (1996)

Satanic Sommelier: vodka cranberry or Zima. A significant feminist milestone in Occult cinema for updating the image of the witch as young, beautiful and daring. It also warns of the dangers of magic… without demonizing or Satanizing! Haven’t watched it since it’s original cinema release; should revisit it soon.

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The Devil’s Advocate   (1997)

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon from Casillero del Diablo. Al Pacino,  Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron star in this slick, very high budget, modern approach to The Devil and all His works. Nice touch name-dropping John Milton, author of Paradise Lost – a Satanic classic listed on The Devil’s Bookshelf

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Satanic Sommelier: Beer. A great idea for a supernatural detective thriller that unfortunately fails to thrill or surprise with it’s far-fetched, convoluted story and mechanical outcome. The demon Azazel does some body-hopping possession to cause suffering among humankind. Nice to name drop AZAZEL as the demon due to it’s relation with the scapegoat, and the scapegoating of others – as responsible for sins which they are accused of while possessed in the story.

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The Ninth Gate (1999)

Satanic Sommelier: A smooth and satisfying Spanish or Portuguese red wine.  A Satanic thriller directed by Roman Polanski and starring Johnny Depp (“Shut up and take my money!”). Based upon the 1993 novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Johnny Depp is the unscrupulous antique book dealer Dean Corso, who finds himself entangled in a mystery surrounding an ancient grimoire known as The Nine Gates. The Tarot-like illustrations in the mysterious book around which the story revolves are intriguing. The film is beautifully shot, well acted and steeped in Occult and Satanic essences. However, it may leave some viewers perplexed at the end the first time they watch it. There is a deeper reading to the story regarding Dean Corso’s journey which is not explicitly spelled out for you (however, it is illustrated!). Worth a few viewings to think about and really appreciate the intricacy of the story.

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A mystery is revealed in ‘The Ninth Gate.’

Some occultists may find strange echoes of resonance in the works of Kenneth Grant.

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Reading books like The Ninth Arch by occultist Kenneth Grant will bend and twist your mind into strange worlds and stranger aeons.

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Arnold Schwarzeneger VS Satan. Guess who wins.

End Of Days   (1999)

Satanic Sommelier: Beer. Remember when the world was freaking out about the Turn of the Millennium? 1999 stirred fears of a worldwide computer malfunction, or even the coming of the AntiChrist among the religious. Hollywood eagerly jumped on the paranoid crazy train to Hell with this high budget thriller in which Arnold Schwarzenegger saves the world from Satan. Gabriel Byrne is good as Satan’s host/The Nameless Banker. 

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Gabriel Byrne turns on the heat in End Of Days.

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Where will the 21st Century take Satanic Cinema? Will The Devil maintain a hold on an increasingly Atheistic or non-Christian society? Are Devil films doomed to become obsolete? Or will Evil come from beyond the stars and outside the circles of time?

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Lost Souls  (2000)

Satanic Sommelier: It tries to be champagne but it’s more like a low-calorie beer, or ZIMA. Although not a great movie it sure looks good. An interesting, but slow and subtle, take on the coming of the AntiChrist. Winona Ryder plays the lead role. John Hurt has a small but effective role as an exorcist.

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Saint Sinner   (2002)

Satanic Sommelier: Chilled Chablis. We have a hellhound hard-on for almost anything Clive Barker… so we were pleased to stumble upon this made for TV horror movie.  In 1815 California, an emissary of Pope Pius VII, has traveled to a monastery in California to deliver an ancient statue that has trapped two beautiful succubi (female demons), Munkar and Nakir (played with creepy relish by Mary Mara and Rebecca Harrell.

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Munkar (Mary Mara) & Nakir (Rebecca Harrell) are darkly delicious and otherworldly as the ancient succubi sisters (or are they mother and daughter?) on the loose in the 21st century.

The monastery’s order serves as the secret repository for evil, supernatural objects collected by the Church, and kept there for safekeeping.  A young monk, Brother Tomas Alcala (underwear model-cum-actor Greg Serano), and his friend Brother Gregory inadvertently release the murderous demons, who travel to the 21st century using the monastery’s Wheel of Time. To redeem himself, Brother Tomas pursues them to present-day Seattle, where he allies with police detective Rachel Dressler (Gina Ravera) to recapture the homicidal terrors. Mild sexual tension, violence and gruesome horror effects make this one a fun diversion on a night with nothing to do.

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Jennifer Carpenter gives an intense performance in The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose     (2005)

Satanic Cinema Sommelier: Chilled White wine. An interesting and intellectually engaging take on demonic possession. Not for the jump-scare or gore crowd (our lady-friend fell asleep during it at the theater). Fine performance by Jennifer Carpenter. Based upon the actual real life exorcism of Analiese Michel in Germany in the early ’70’s. 

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Silent Hill   (2006)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & Tonic. What fresh Hell is this?! The film makers did not hold back on the sickness for this high quality film! Monsters, murder and a sacrificial religious cult all figure into this innovative dark horror fantasy. Quite a trend-setting taste of 21st century supernatural horror.

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(2007)   Satanic Sommelier: Italian Red. The third part in The Three Mothers Trilogy. We agree with one critic who described this movie as “an instant cult film”. It is flawed, and after so much anticipation it left many Suspiria and Argento fans disappointed. However, after a few viewings (and a decade  later) we admit that it does have it’s merits and can be enjoyed for some of it’s eccentricities. Don’t expect it to be of Suspiria, or even Inferno, calibre. It is a great collaboration between Dario Argento, his daughter Asia Argento and her mother Daria Nicolodi. Udo Kier also makes a cameo as an exorcist.

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The Mist   (2007)

Satanic Sommelier: Stephen King usually = good beer; but you might want to start off with something a little stronger, like a shot or two of  Wild Turkey, or  whatever you enjoy shooting (no heroin, please!, this isn’t William Burroughs!). Why is this movie on this list? Well obviously… 1. the Lovecraftian influence: H.P. Lovecraft started a trend in horror nearly a hundred years ago and the ideas are only now getting real wide attention and use by horror movie directors. These ideas go far, far beyond traditional ideas of “The Devil”  and “Evil,” and into hostile realms of cosmic dimensions. And 2. the religious zealot crying out for sacrifice (“today’s word is expiation.”) is a frightening look at what can happen (and what is  happening) among certain groups of “sheeple” expecting the “End Times.”

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The House of the Devil   (2009)

Satanic Sommelier: A good Californian red wine to go with your “mushroom” pizza. Inspired by the Satanic Panic of the 1980s; the story feeds on the fears people had at that time. The film takes place and even appears like it was filmed in the ’80’s. A very good, slow burning thriller with a Grand Guignol finish. We highly recommend this one for the simple story and great acting by a small cast.

 

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Anthony Hopkins is always Rite, …and worth watching

 THE RITE   (2011)

Satanic Sommelier: “A nice Chianti.” A seminary student (Colin O’Donoghue) with more ideas on psychiatry than faith finds he must attend a Vatican school of exorcism. He then becomes the apprentice of Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a veteran exorcist, and encounters a terrifying force that causes him to question everything he believes. The Exorcist theme has been played out in numerous ways in cinema in the past decades but few can match the quality of The Rite.

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Sherri Moon Zombie breaks on through to the other side in The Lords of Salem.

The Lords of Salem (2012)

Satanic Sommelier:  Magic mushrooms with a gin & tonic, and a beer chaser. Rob Zombie’s hallucinogenic trip into the weird world of witchcraft is, like it’s creator,  certainly original. This film links back to ancient blasphemous heresy for starters before relocating us into modern Salem, Massachusetts where young DJ Heidi (played by Sherri Moon Zombie) is ensnared in the ancient sorcery of a family curse while trying to break free of a nasty heroin addiction. Worth seeing for Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson and Patricia Quinn (Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and some bizarre artistic moments.

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Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson and Dee Wallace get it rite in old Salem.

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AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN –Pictured: (L-R): Jessica Lange as Fiona, Emma Roberts as Madison, Jamie Brewer as Nan, Taissa Farmiga as Zoe, Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie .

American Horror Story Season 3: COVEN (2013)

Satanic Sommelier: Bourbon. An American cable TV drama series. A darkly funny and smart post-sexual revolution feminist return to those old Witchcraft and love potion flicks of the 40’s and 50’s. But this is American Horror Story – so yes, there is some sex and plenty of blood and violence – albeit with an edge of snarky black humor. A strong female cast (Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett to name a few) exhibits the thrills of using potent magical powers. Which Witch will reign Supreme?

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The Three Witches. Triplicity is a theme in Witchcraft

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The Witch (2015)

Satanic Sommelier: Guiness or a good local brew (beer), or an Irish red like Killians. The Witch is an atmospheric period piece set in 1630 New England. A  folktale saturated with fearful religious paranoia that inexorably tears apart a family of English Puritan settlers trying to survive on the edge of a vast threatening forest after being banished from the safe confines of their colony. The fear of Satan’s power may be real or imagined or seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are looking for jump scares or buckets of gore, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. Committed performances and some unsettling imagery of classical witchcraft (so rare in cinema) make this film a must-see for those who move in certain circles… around a bonfire… beneath a full moon.

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The Void   (2016)

Not yet viewed

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Incarnate   (2016)

Not yet viewed

Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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By: H.B.G.

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Is God Dead? Yes, this was an actual cover for TIME magazine in 1966.

Note: All passages in purple are direct quotes from the novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Ira Levin.

Rosemary’s Baby is perhaps the most positive Satanic book – and film – ever made. Certainly there will be die-hard fans of Joris-Karl Huysmans who insist that his 1891 novel Là-bas  (translated as Down There or The Damned) is the ultimate piece of Satanic literature;  however, it’s confused philosophical digressions, not to mention it’s darker and more grotesque passages, keep it far from the field of the positive. Rosemary’s Baby, both as a  novel penned by author Ira Levin and as a hit film directed by Roman Polanski, works on an entirely different level from Huysmans’ masterpiece of decadent diabolism. A level so close to our own, in fact, that we cannot help but be pulled into the story and accept that which must be considered by devout Christians to be the ultimate unacceptable thing – to purely love the spawn of Satan – the Antichrist incarnate. The other choice which presents itself in this thriller (as will be shown) is suicide – a grave matter – and a mortal sin that has been judged unpardonable in the past.

We are left wondering at the end of the story. We wonder if it is indeed a happy ending or a terrifying one. By the end of Rosemary’s Baby some people’s deeply held beliefs are called into question regarding: the Devil’s power, Is God dead? and, if you were Rosemary Woodhouse, a sense of what would you do? We must examine and consider our reaction to the final scene where Satan’s power is fully revealed in the apparent absence of any God. A child has been birthed who is destined to “overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! ….redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” A true ‘Mother’s Love’ is certainly the purest kind of love to be found on Earth but what to do in this case?! We are left wondering – ‘Wouldn’t it be better if she throws the baby out the window and jumps out after it?’ as is suggested in the novel. Or, we might choose to look at it differently. After suspecting through much of the tale that the baby was in mortal danger from the coven, ‘Isn’t it marvelous that the baby is not only safe at the end but fiercely adored?’

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Virtue and Vice symbolized.

Sister Light, Sister Dark

In the story we (“we”are Rosemary – for the entire story is from her perspective) meet (Theresa) Terry Gionoffrio, a former drug addict with a sketchy past whose life has been turned around by a nice old couple, the Castevets, who in the way of the Good Samaritan (in a parable told by Jesus in the Book of Luke) have literally picked Terry up off the sidewalk, brought her home with them, and are bringing her back to full health and (in the novel) even planning on putting her through secretarial school – giving her the promise of a second chance, a new  future. But their home is the Bramford, a dark gothic apartment house on Manhattan’s upper West side with an even sketchier past than Terry’s. For over a hundred years all manner of scandals and crimes have accumulated within it’s darkly woven texture: suicide, murder, cannibalism, diabolism… But the Castevets seem kindly enough, “like real grandparents” as Terry says.

“I was starving and on dope and doing a lot of other things that I’m so ashamed of I could throw up just thinking about them. And Mr and Mrs Castevet completely rehabilitated me. They got me off the H, the dope, and got food into me and clean clothes on me, and now nothing is too good for me as far as their concerned. They give me all kinds of health food and vitamins, they even have a doctor come give me regular check-ups! It’s because their childless. I’m like the daughter they never had, you know?”

Terry says that at first she suspected the Castevets had some kind of ulterior motive, “a sex thing” he, or she, or they would want her to do. “But they’ve really been like real grandparents. Nothing like that.” It must have broken her heart when the revelation came that they actually did indeed want her for a “sex thing,” just not in the way anybody could have possibly imagined.

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Cult-ivated for great things

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Mater Dolorosa

Rosemary and Terry meet in the Bramford’s gloomy basement where, as we learn early on from our friend Hutch, that “a dead baby wrapped in newspaper had not so long ago been found. Whose baby had it been, and how had it died? Who had found it? Had the person who left it been caught and punished?” Rosemary considers researching the incident “but that would have made it more real, more dreadful than it already was. To know the spot where the baby had lain, to have perhaps to walk past it on the way to the laundry room and again on the way back to the elevator, would have been unbearable. Partial ignorance, she decided, was partial bliss.”

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Tannis anyone? Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the coven.

A more appropriate meeting place could not be devised for these two women who each live “in partial ignorance and partial bliss.” The basement, being underground, is the womb – tomb of the “Black Bramford”. It is the location of a horrendous discovery “not so long ago”of a dead infant. Rosemary and Terry meet at the nefarious scene where a dead baby was discovered; a strange yet subtle twist involving the fates of these two women. The Bramford’s basement laundry facilities is a witches’ crossroads of devouring death; the dark steamy maw of the Dark Mother who gives birth to, and devours, her young. Were this story a Grimm’s fairy tale we could just as easily imagine the meeting of the relatively innocent pig-tailed Rosemary and the more worldly-experienced Terry taking place in some deep dark forest, at a crossroads where criminals are hanged, the unquiet dead are buried, and necromantic rituals take place in the flickering light of black candles made from the fat of unbaptized babes. They meet in the basement of the spooky, gothic witches’ mansion. The basement which is also, of course, the subconscious – where the monsters live. With it’s “steamy brick walls” it is the Bramford’s bowels, a moist womb. A gestation place for all evil conceptions. As Terry proudly exhibits her lovely, yet foul-smelling, gift from the Castevets, the umbilical threads of Fate are rewoven by the hand of Satan between these two women.

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“I’m not mad about the smell either.”

With Rosemary and Terry we are reminded of a pair of women that occur as a choice in many hero journey myths. Or, as card number six ‘VI The Lovers’ on the Marseille style Tarot card. The Dark Woman represents Vice, the Light Woman represents Virtue. Sister Dark and Sister Light – each represent a temptation. The somewhat exotic, brunette Terry – with her history of illicit sex, prostitution, and drugs; and fair, strawberry blond, girlishly pig-tailed Rosemary – the good Catholic school girl from Omaha, Nebraska. In the novel we learn (Minnie Castevet’s voice coming from the nun in the dream on the night of Terry’s suicide): “All she has to be is young, healthy and not a virgin. She doesn’t have to be a no-good drug-addict whore out of the gutter.” Very simple qualifications for the required candidate the Castevets need. Terry has been staying with the Castevets for a few months. Has Terry inquired about their taste in art? Or have they removed their paintings from the walls?

‘There aren’t many like Mr and Mrs Castevet,’ Terry said. ‘I would be dead now if it wasn’t for them. That’s an absolute fact. Dead or in jail.’

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Who’s your Baby-Daddy? In the novel, Rosemary brings Terry to her apartment to meet Guy. This photo imagines that scene which looks like it may have been filmed but edited out from the final cut.

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Some interpret the two figures flanking the male Lover as personifications of Vice & Virtue

Is suicide a sin?

Not long after meeting Terry we find her dead in the street, quite literally in the gutter you might say, right after she jumps from the Castevet’s seventh story window. We are shocked and appalled at this sudden loss of such a beautiful young woman we have only just met (in the novel we learn everyone mistakes her for the actress Anna Maria Alberghetti; in the film she resembles Victoria Vetri – who actually plays the role under the name Angela Dorian). “She was a very happy girl with no reason for self destruction” mourns Minnie. We are left to wonder as the suicide note is read silently; though Minnie Castevet tells us later that the suicide note “made it crystal clear” that they (the Castevets) hadn’t “failed her in some way”.

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Minnie, your only failure is your sense of fashion

Of course we come to learn just what Terry’s dilemma was. She was being groomed by the Castevets to become the mother of Satan’s child. Apparently the Castevets had wisely withheld this information from Terry up until and just before her suicide. Rosemary and Guy hear Minnie’s midwestern bray through the walls of their own apartment: “But it’s impossible to be a hundred percent sure!” and “If you want my opinion, we shouldn’t tell her at all; that’s my opinion!” The film hints that the suicide occurs the night after Rosemary and Guy hear the “singing and the flute and the chanting” coming through the wall from the Castevet’s neighboring apartment. The novel tells us the Castevet’s had one of their parties on the Saturday night before Rosemary meets Terry, but we are uncertain whether Terry was present. Perhaps she was, and perhaps that was when she was presented with the antique Tannis charm. On the night of the suicide Rosemary overhears the distraught voice of Minnie Castevet through her bedroom wall as she drifts into sleep. The voice seeps into her dream in the form of an angry nun from her Catholic school girl years complaining: “Sometimes I wonder how come you’re the leader of anything! If you’d’ listened to me, we wouldn’t have had to do it! We’d have been all set to go now instead of starting all over from scratch! I told you not to tell her anything in advance….. I told you she wouldn’t be open-minded! Time enough later to let her in on it.” 

Terry felt compelled to choose between willingly giving birth to Satan’s child, or suicide. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin? This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds.

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“Didn’t she have a brother? She said she did. In the Navy.”

Whenever – and under whatever circumstances – she was informed of the Castevet’s diabolical plan, Terry felt compelled to choose between submitting to having sex with Satan and giving birth to his child, or suicide. We are presented with a soteriological dilemma. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin?  This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds. According to the theology of the Catholic Church, death by suicide is considered a grave matter, one of the elements required for mortal sin.

A mortal sin (Latin: peccata mortalia), in Catholic theology, is a gravely wrongful act, which can lead to eternal damnation, if a person is not absolved of the sin before death (an impossibility for a successful suicide). A sin is considered to be “mortal” when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God’s saving grace.

Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. Not only is suicide seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity, but it is forbidden by the fifth commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother”. There is some debate among denominations and theologians, and differing opinions, as to whether suicide is, as a sin, pardonable or not.

As to why Terry didn’t just try to get out of there – we might well imagine her despair at the idea of going to seek help with her crazy story!  She would have quite assuredly imagined – knowing what she surely figured out before taking her own life (remember, Terry knew poor old Mrs Gardenia who used to live next door before slipping into a coma after a falling-out with the Castevets) – that the Castevet’s coven would take immediate black magical action against her, causing her to go blind, deaf or worse! Even if the Castevet coven resisted casting any spells against Terry (Ha! As if!) she would almost immediately have been shut away in some hideous New York mental hospital (this is 1965 remember). Or, she could choose to risk going back to the streets of New York in 1965, where she would most likely end up falling back into her old ways, and end up dying in the gutter anyway. Falling or jumping as a form of suicide holds some close connection to the idea of Satan’s Fall from Heaven. Poetic, no?

 

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He  moves in mysterious ways…

“Minnie said, ‘He chose you out of all the world, Rosemary. Out of all the women in the whole world, He chose you. He brought you and Guy to your apartment there, He made that foolish what’s-her-name, Terry, made her get all scared and silly so we had to change our plans. He arranged everything that had to be arranged, ’cause He wanted you to be the mother of His only living Son.'”

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“Look at His hands!”

We are given some valuable extra information about Rosemary’s thinking process in the final pages of the novel. After the awful revelation she is sitting with a hot cup of Lipton’s  tea and thinks…

“The thing to do was kill it. Obviously. Wait…. and grab it and throw it out the window. and jump out after it. Mother Slays Baby and Self at Bramford. Save the world from God-knows-what. From Satan-knows-what.”

Yet, she struggles with the idea whether it is even human and decides “He couldn’t be all bad, he just couldn’t. Even if he was half Satan, wasn’t he half her as well, half decent, ordinary, sensible, human being?” She considers that she could exert her own good influence over him to counteract their bad one. She even considers going to a priest. “It was a problem for the Church to handle. For the Pope and all the cardinals to deal with…”

Her motherly instincts take over when she hears the baby crying and sees that Laura-Louise is rocking the baby too fast. Roman Castevet tells her to rock him. “She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. In the film Sydney Blackmer, excellently cast as Roman Castevet, with a suffering look of pure pathos says “Aren’t you His mother?” In the novel, her eyes then move to the window  and she suggests that Roman should oil the squeaking wheels of the bassinet. It’s as though she is still deciding just what to do. Window? Wait?

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“She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. ‘Aren’t you His mother?’ Roman said.”

As she is rocking him she begins to think his eyes, which so startled and revolted her at first, are actually “pretty in a way,” and asks what his hands are like as they are covered in black mitts. She is told that he has very tiny pearly claws and they’re covered “only so He doesn’t scratch Himself, not because His hands are unattractive.” Her anger flashes at the appearance of Dr Sapirstein but she is quick to say: “‘Not you,” to the Baby. ‘It’s not your fault. I’m angry at them, because they tricked me and lied to me. Don’t look so worried; I’m not going to hurt you.'” She loosens the neck of the baby’s gown to make Him more comfortable. Tells Him He has a very cute chin. 

Indeed, it isn’t the baby’s fault. “Poor little creature.”

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“Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!”

Rosemary insists the baby be named Andrew John rather than Roman Castevet’s favored Adrian Steven, after his devil conjuring father and his own true name. A point she refuses even to argue about. And, “He can’t wear black all the time.” She has come to fully accept her baby, with budding horns, tail and all. Naming it, claiming it. Speaking sweetly to it as the coven gathers around the black bassinet in awe at the dark miracle before them and exclaim “Hail Andrew!” and “Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!” and “Hail Satan!” Rosemary Woodhouse gave birth just after midnight on June twenty-fifth. Exactly half the year round from you-know-who. She has become the first Satanic Madonna and has not even joined the coven. She calls the baby Mr Worry-face’. Roman assures her the baby knows she will not hurt him. She asks Roman “Then what does he look so worried for? The poor little thing. Look at him.” As a final touch, in an effort to erase what she sees as a “worried expression” from the baby’s face, she taps the silver ornament dangling above the baby – an inverted crucifix suspended by a black ribbon bound around the Christ’s ankles – and sets it swinging.

The genius of Rosemary’s Baby lies in it’s so successfully aligning the reader, or viewer, with the character of Rosemary that we too can’t help but condone her motherly instincts. With an intense interest in the subject Jules Bois wrote in 1895 in Le Satanisme et la Magie that the devil’s power lies in that “he suffers;” an idea expressed so well in Milton’s Paradise Lost we find ourselves wondering which side Milton was on. Rosemary sees her own baby “suffering” in the midst of a coven of aging witches – surrounded with black, gown uncomfortably tied, rocked carelessly and without a mother’s good sense, her own breast milk she’s been pumping out being fed to her baby in bottles when she had decided to breast feed, etc..). In Rosemary’s Baby, book or film, we find ourselves choosing life rather than the murder of an innocent baby – whatever it’s  paternal, or infernal, origins may be.

By: H. B. Gardner